Over the past few months, ACCORD has been hosting conflict management training sessions for women-led non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations across the nine provinces in South Africa. As part of the culmination of the first phase of the project, ACCORD conducted the last experience sharing session titled ‘Finding My Network’, by bringing together all the South African based women peacebuilders that engaged during the year to meet in person in Durban, South Africa on 18 – 19 November 2021.
The sessions, were facilitated by experts in various African networks of peacebuilding. Ms Pravina Makan-Lakha, FemWise Africa focal point and Advisor to ACCORD’s Women, Peace and Security programme; Ms Caron Kgomo, the Director of Gender & Diversity Management at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO); and Ms Kgomotso Buthelezi, a social activist and member of the Women’ Election Mechanism for Peace (WEMP) offered the participants a more in-depth experiential understanding on the application of skills that they have been exposed to during the year long programme. The process of engaging with these experts allowed the women to shift their thinking from the theory and concepts to the practical elements of peacebuilding. The women peacebuilders were also provided with space for conversation around the adoption and implementation of South Africa’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and the possible contributions they could make to support the objectives of South Africa’s NAP.
The two-day workshop provided the platform for women to share their experiences, which gave rise to the increased awareness and appreciation of their own contributions and leadership in bringing about peace. Participants left workshop inspired, motivated, and with the hope that this project may continue into the new year with more in-person interactions to better aid the ‘Application’ of the skills learned. ACCORD will continue to highlight the importance of involving women in peace processes, and inensuring that peace agreements are sensitive to the challenges and needsof women.